A love letter to campus coffee

by Jamie Ballard

Dear Campus Coffee,

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

First, we have the elitist and corporate but oh-so-wonderful Starbucks. Starbucks, you provide me with something special. You’re who I turn to when I need a treat after a long day, and I’m willing to forgo the gym and forget that a frappuccino is basically a milkshake. You’re also the right coffee chain when I need to buy a thank-you coffee for a friend because you’re consistent and delicious. Everyone loves you, Starbucks, even people who don’t really drink coffee. Although Peet’s Coffee will always have a special place in my heart, you’re not half bad. What’s more, you provide what no other coffee on campus can provide—the lovely cafe atmosphere and a place to study. I harp on you a little bit because I still think you over-roast your beans, making the coffee taste burnt, but let’s be honest—I’m not there for a plain cup of coffee anyway. I’m there for something with chocolate, caramel, whipped cream and sugar, and no one can do that like you, Starbucks.

Big City Bagels, or Peabody’s (what should I even call you?), I can’t explain how much I love you. You’re the coffee chain that makes me excited to get out of bed in the morning. You inspire me to leave 10 minutes early so I can stop for a medium Americano on my way to class. Oh, that is medium Americano with half-and-half. I don’t know what you do, or how you do it, but I know that when I’m sitting in my 8 a.m. class, that Americano is heavenly. Unlike Starbucks, you sell me bagels and pastries without telling me the calorie count, and for that, I love you. Your lines are blissfully never too long and your baristas are always friendly and efficient. Peabody’s, you’re the light at the end of the tunnel, the warm and familiar hug, the reason I love coffee and life. I like how you do your own thing and the fact that not everyone has discovered your magic yet. Your coffee puns make my mornings and afternoons: “Is it ‘mugging’ if you steal someone’s coffee?” “Not drinking enough coffee can cause a ‘latte’ problems.” “Don’t be afraid to ‘espresso’ yourself.” I’ll stop. But please, could you stay open just a little later on Fridays? Fridays are my “treat yo’ self” days and sometimes I really crave your dirty chai in the late afternoon. But alas, you’re closed, and I’m crying.  That said, you’re still wonderful and I love you. Don’t ever change, Big City Bagels, or Peabody’s. Well, maybe change your name so I’m less confused.

Aztec Market coffee, you and I have gone through a lot together. You’re who I turn to late at night, in the throes of desperation. Friends may come and go, other coffee places may close before 10 p.m., but you are always there for me. You’re unfussy, unpretentious and well within my budget. You are the coffee I’ll occasionally spend real money on without complaining. Come Saturday morning when my meal plan doesn’t apply and I still have to go be a functional human at work, you are what saves me. You’re the coffee I seek when I have five minutes to get to class and no time to wait in line. Your Irish cream vanilla fantasia flavors and array of miniature creamers are sometimes the only things that convince me to continue my day, rather than giving up and taking a nap. You’re weirdly inconsistent, but I think that’s probably me, not you. On days when I’m basically dying of exhaustion or stress you’re nirvana, but on days that are going pretty well, you’re just alright. Also, I’d like to point out you’ve scalded my tongue more often than is appropriate, but we’ll work on that. We both know you’re not as highbrow or fancy as the other coffee places, but you know what? I don’t care. I love you anyway.

We all know that sadly, this love can’t last forever. Someday I’ll move on, probably with some pretentious hipster coffee shop that charges me $6 for organic roasted coffee, served in a handcrafted Nicaraguan bowl. But until I graduate, Campus Coffee, you have my undying devotion, love and perhaps most importantly, my money.